The High Court has given the Farm Terrace allotment-holders permission to proceed with a legal challenge to Eric Pickles’s decision to allow Watford Borough The claim has been brought by three plot-holders who face eviction to make way for housing. The site cannot be built on without the Secretary of State’s consent, and there are strict criteria that have to be met before councils are given the all clear. Consent was nonetheless granted but the allotment holders and gardeners disagreed, arguing that the development could go ahead without building on the allotments, and that retaining allotments is also in the public interest. In April, a High Court judge looked at the case and, after considering the Secretary of State’s and the Council’s calls for the claim to be refused permission, has disagreed and has decided that the grounds of challenge are arguable. Andrew Moore, one of the claimants, said: “It is a shame that we have had to take the case this far. It’s not too late for the Council and the Secretary of State to change their minds and accommodate the allotments within the development, as the developers have acknowledged they could. “I am glad that the judge has recognised that this case raises serious issues that merit a full hearing. This case is not only important to me and the other Farm Terrace Allotment holders. It will affect many other sites across the country that are also under threat from development, and we hope to set a precedent that will help to protect allotments for future generations as well as our own. Adam Hundt, of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, who represent the claimants, said: “The Secretary of State has criteria by which applications for consent to build on allotments are assessed, but he has effectively decided that those criteria can be ignored if profit margins are said to be at risk. One has to question what the point of having criteria that are designed to protect allotments from development is, if they can be ignored with so little justification. Further details can be accessed here on the campaigners’ website and on twitter @SaveFarmTerrace. The allotment holders are represented by Adam Hundt of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jason Coppel QC and Hannah Slarks. My News Magazines contacted Watford Borough Council for a comment. Watford Borough Council said: “We note the court’s decision to grant leave for the Judicial Review to be heard. We remain confident that the process will show we made a strong case to the Secretary of State to include the Farm Terrace allotments in the Watford Health Campus scheme particularly in light of:
- 77 per cent of people who took part in the recent Watford Health Campus public consultation are backing the proposals
- We have clearly demonstrated why the inclusion of the allotments is in the wider public interest namely: the opportunity for new hospital facilities; much-needed affordable homes; 1,600 jobs; accessible green and open spaces and better transport links
- We are re-providing the allotments so there is no loss in the amount of allotment land available to Watford residents and all Farm Terrace tenants are being offered support to find new plots as well as compensation.
Read more in May’s My Watford News